Kajol's mere presence has the potential to overshadow her co-stars, but surprisingly, we get to see her modest camaraderie light up the talents of the stunning supporting cast, observes Divya Nair.
Over the past couple of years, the meteoric rise of OTT platforms have ensured that even A-listers are tempted to join the party.
Naturally, OTT is the new multiplex.
Actors like Saif Ali Khan, Ajay Devgn, Madhuri Dixit and Kajol have tasted a new form of stardom and fan base after marking their entry on this penetrative medium.
In June 2023, Kajol surprised everyone when she posted the note, 'Facing one of the toughest trials of my life' with a message, 'Taking a break from social media'. It was discovered later that the post was a plug in to announce her latest show The Trial.
Based on the American drama series The Good Wife, the eight-episode series dropped online on July 14 and is written and adapted for India by Suparn S Verma.
True to the title, Kajol plays Noyonika Sengupta aka 'the good wife' to husband Rajeev Sengupta, who is arrested on charges of bribery and faces a media trial.
As the world and reality around them changes, Noyonika decides to lead from the front and keep the family together.
After a couple of rejections, she manages to bag a temporary position at a law firm run by her former friend Vishal (Alyy Khan).
On her first day of work, she takes on the challenge of representing a client facing murder charges. It's a pro bono case, but Noyonika's quick thinking and fight for justice turns her into a mini hero of sorts, compelling her seniors and colleagues to get the best out of her.
Apart from professional challenges, we get to see how Noyonika deals with emotional situations at home and in her relationships as their story is narrated in quick, essential flashbacks.
The story is gripping, with compelling performances by the lead cast steered by Kajol, Jisshu, Alyy and Sheeba Chaddha.
Kajol is brilliant as the fighter mom-wife-lawyer, who has her heart in the right place. Her mere presence has the potential to overshadow her co-stars, but surprisingly, we get to see her modest camaraderie light up the talents of the stunning supporting cast.
A special mention to Alyy Khan's vocal supremacy. His sharp baritone and command over dialogues is praiseworthy.
Gaurav Pandey, Kubbra Sait and Aamir Alido add some spice to the proceedings, but they definitely deserved more screen time to do justice.
The dialogues are neat. Philosophies and life gyaan are distributed in ample measure and some of it are worth an encore.
The overall mood and vibe of the series is always almost gloomy, but the sharp editing and writing ensure that we don't get to indulge much in the pleasantries of each of the characters. Perhaps the urgency to tell the larger story is deliberate.
Most court cases are solved within an episode or two, almost establishing Noyonika and team as a super-efficient dream team, which may not be how judiciaries function in the country.
Blame it on my expectations, but we've seen far more absorbing and closer-to-life court room dramas in recent times -- the slow burn Criminal Justice, spirited Guilty Minds and, of course, the glitzy Suits being one of my all-time favourites.
Given that The Trial is adapted for a country where defamation cases, murder charges and bribery cases are represented for months until we are tired and move on, the series glamourises an unreal legal system, like a constant reminder that this is all fiction.
Creative liberties apart, The Trial is a decently written series you'd binge watch.
The final episode twist offers enough fodder to keep you longing for a power-packed Season 2, if there is one.
The Trial streams on Disney+Hotstar.